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 Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie

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royannahuggins
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Join date : 2013-10-13

20160911
PostAlias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie



Will Heyes and Curry find family and fortune?  

Starring

Pete Duel and Ben Murphy as
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry



Guest Starring


Richard Crenna as Harley Pemberton


Gene Hackman as John “JJ”Cameron


Diana Muldaur as Ada Pemberton


Corey Haim as Tommy


Bea Arthur as the Waitress


Albert Salmi as the Bartender


Danny Trejo as Miguel


Alias Joshua Smith
by Rosie Annie


The winter sun was already setting when two weary cowboys rode up to a hotel painted in gaudy blues, red and greens.  They looked at the hotel, looked at each other, and looked at the hotel again before the man wearing a battered black hat spoke.



“Well, Kid?  What do you think?”

“I'm thinkin’ that the rooms better not be painted the same way, or I won't be able to get any sleep.”

The first man laughed.  “That ain't what I meant.  You think we can afford this place?  It looks awful fancy.”

“Heyes, with a fancy outside like that, they probably ran out of money to keep the rooms up.  I think we can afford it.”

“Good.  My behind can’t take another hour in the saddle while we look for some other place to stay.”

“Mine neither.  ‘Specially with a storm movin’ in.”

The men dismounted and tied up their horses.  Slinging saddlebags over their shoulders, they went inside.  The lobby was as shabby as the outside was ornate.

“This is more like it, Heyes.  Looks like every other dump we've stayed in.”

“We should be able to afford it then.”  They dropped their possessions next to the reception desk.  “Where's the clerk anyway?  It's almost suppertime; someone should be here.”  He hit the small bell on the desk.  Almost immediately, a thin teenager came running down the stairs from the second floor.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he said breathlessly as he sprinted into the lobby.  “How can I help you gentlemen?”

“We'd like a room,” Heyes said.  “Two beds with a view of the street, with baths.”

“No problem, sir.  Still only $2.00 a night, a real bargain, as long as you don't mind the noise.”

“Noise?” Curry asked.  “What kind of noise?”

“Construction noise during the day.  There's a new owner, and he's fixin' up the place.  It's gonna be real high class when he's done.”  He opened the big registration book for them.  “If'n you'll just sign in here, gents, I can give you your key.”



Heyes smiled at the earnest boy.  “Noise during the day ain't no problem for us, as long as it's quiet at night.  My partner needs to get his beauty rest.”

The boy blinked.  “He needs beauty rest?”

“Never mind him,” Curry said, signing the register.  “He thinks he's funny.”  He pushed the registry over to Heyes, who dipped his pen in an inkwell and signed with a quick scrawl.

“Can someone take care of our horses?  They're right out in front.”

“Yes sir.  My boss, Mr. Cameron, should be back real soon to take over here, and then I can do it.  I’ll get the baths sent up, too.”

“That should be fine.”

They picked up their saddlebags and went upstairs.  As they turned around a corner, an older man with a peg leg came into the lobby from a side door.

“There's two horses out front, Tommy.  Whose are they?”

“They belong to a couple fellas who just checked in, Mr. Cameron.”

“Did you have them sign in, like I told you?”

“Yes sir, take a look.”

Cameron looked at the signatures.  “Joshua Smith and Thaddeus Jones?  Is this some kind of joke?”

Tommy peered at the book without understanding.  “Joke, sir?”

“Two fellas travellin' together called Smith and Jones?  That can't be their real names.”

“Gosh!  You mean they’re aliases, like in the dime novels?  Maybe them two are really famous outlaws!”  Tommy's eyes were bright with excitement.

“Settle down, son.  Famous outlaws don’t stray from the outlaw trail in wintertime.  I probably spoke out of turn. Still… Joshua Smith sounds real familiar to me.  Wish I could place that name.  What’s he look like?”

“Nothin’ special.  Brown hair, brown eyes.”  Tommy shrugged.  “Just another cowboy.  I didn’t really pay him no mind.”

“Huh.  It’s probably not important.  I’ll have to think on it more.”  He slammed the registration book shut.  “Go ahead and stable their horses.  After you do that, come on back here.  I got some more chores for you.”

“Yes, sir.”  The teen-ager almost ran out the front door.  Cameron waited till he had gone, then opened the registration book again and looked at the newest signatures more carefully.  His eyes opened wide in surprise.

“It can’t be,” he whispered.  “It can’t.”


0000000000

Curry sat alone by the front window in the small café, elbows resting on the table and sipping coffee.  He watched activity swirl around him; customers came and went, waitresses took orders and brought out trays of food, and families chatted.  Glancing outside, he saw fat raindrops slowly splatter against the window.  The restaurant door flew open on a gust of wind, and Heyes blew in with it, holding his hat onto his head with one hand.

“Weather’s getting nasty,” Heyes said, sitting down across from him and putting his hat on the table next to Curry’s.  “Lucky we got here when we did.  I don’t like the thought of riding through a cold downpour.”

“Did you get those telegrams sent?”

“Uh huh.  With any luck, we’ll have some job offers tomorrow.”

“I hope so.  Our money's not gonna hold out much longer.”

“Don’t worry, Kid.  We’ll find something.  We always do.  Meantime, tonight we'll check out the poker talent at the saloon and pick up some money along with the gossip.  There's bound to be someone in this town who wants to hire two fine, upstanding men.”

‘Oh sure, that’s fine for them, but how’s that gonna help us?”

“Have a little faith, Kid.  This looks like a friendly town.  Something’s about to happen.  I can feel it.”

A waitress stopped by and held up a coffee pot, and Heyes nodded.

“For example,” Heyes continued, “I bet this fine lady knows everything that happens in this town.  Don't you, ma'am?

“I moved here two months ago,” she replied, pouring coffee into his cup.  “You want fried chicken or beef stew?”

Heyes’ smile faltered.  “That’s all you got?”

“Bring us one of each,” Curry told her.  “We'll figure out who gets what when it comes.”  She walked away without acknowledging him.

“What were you sayin’ about this bein’ a friendly town?”

“She’s new here.”

“She probably moved here because she fits right in.”

“Kid, you worry too much.”

“Haven’t you said, you like it when I worry?”

“Alright, I did.  But I’m telling you, you worry about the wrong things.”

Curry sat back in his chair and folded his arms.  “I do, do I?  What should I be worried about?  Besides the fact we’re runnin’ out of money, we’re hopin’ against hope that one of those telegrams will get us a job offer while it’s January in Texas, and we’re probably gonna be sleepin’ out in the freezin’ rain a couple nights from now.”



Heyes grinned.  “You should worry about how you’re gonna get any of that fried chicken.”

“You’re the one should be worried.  Ain’t you heard?  Nobody’s faster than me.”


0000000000

It was still early in the evening when Cameron heard the main door of the hotel crash open, and two very wet men entered, dripping water as they shook themselves like wet dogs, arguing all the while.

“Yeah, I heard what you said.  We’ll check out the poker talent, you said.  Don’t worry about money, you said.”

“Will you quit already!  It ain’t my fault the locals don’t come out to play when the weather’s bad.”

“How’re we supposed to make any money playin’ cards when there ain’t no one to play with!“

Cameron stood up.  “Gentlemen, is there a problem I can help you with?”  The men stopped and seemed to take a breath.  The dark-haired one answered in a mild voice.

“No sir, nothing you can help with, unless you got the power to turn off this rainstorm.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been this wet before outside a swimming hole.”

“Sure wish I did.  Storms like this don’t come often, but when they do, they’re humdingers and can last for a couple days.”

“Don’t nobody in this town go out in the rain?” the blond man asked.  “Where we come from, nothin’ stops poker.”

“Oh, there’s poker, alright, except it moves from the saloon to private clubs and homes.  Most people don’t venture out much in this kind of weather.  Sure makes me feel for anyone out on the trail tonight.”

“Makes us grateful to be stayin’ here.”

“Ah.  You must be Misters Smith and Jones.  Which one of you is which?”

“I’m Joshua Smith, and this here’s my partner, Thaddeus Jones.”

Cameron folded his hands on the big desk.  “Now how in the heck did that happen?”

The two men exchanged a quick glance.

“Long story,” Smith said.  “The short of it is, we met at a job and got along good, so we decided to travel together.  In these times, it’s safer to have someone you trust watching your back.”

“So I’ve heard,” Cameron commented.  “Though I don’t travel so much anymore, since this.”  He walked around to the front of the desk, and the men saw his peg leg.  “Now I work here.  Name’s John Josephus Cameron Junior.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cameron.  This is quite a place you’ve got.”

“You can call me JJ, Mr. Smith.  The full name’s a mouthful, even for me.  As for this here hotel, it ain’t so much yet, but it will be.  Renovation’s just gettin’ started on the rooms.”

“The paint job outside sure is somethin’,” Curry put in.  He and Heyes stepped over to shake hands with Cameron.

“It is that,” Heyes agreed.  “And we’re Thaddeus and Joshua, JJ.  We’re not much for formality.”

“Glad to hear it.  And somethin’ might be the right description for that exterior, Thaddeus.  The owner heard bright colors are all the rage back east.  They call buildings look like that ‘painted ladies.’  The good kind, I guess.  Though when I was young like you two, I was more familiar with the other kind.”  Heyes and Curry laughed.

“Since we’re all friends now,” Cameron went on, “I guess you won’t mind if I ask you, what brings you boys here?  We don’t get too many guests this time of year.  That’s why we’re doing the renovations now.”

“We came from Colorado,” Curry explained.  “Mighty cold and snowy there.”

“Colorado?  From hearing you talk, I’d say you sound more like you come from Kansas.  Especially you, Joshua.”

Heyes’ and Curry’s smiles faded.

“You got a good ear, JJ,” Heyes admitted.  “But I left when I was barely more than a boy.  Hardly been back since.”  Cameron just looked at him without commenting.

“We’re here lookin’ for work,” Curry said quickly, breaking the awkward silence.  “Joshua sent out some telegrams today, and we’re hopin’ somethin’ pans out from that.  You wouldn’t know about anybody here in town lookin’ to hire, do you?”

“What kind of work are you looking for?”

“We’re open to opportunity, JJ.”  At Cameron’s scowl, Heyes hurried to explain.

“My partner means we’ve done lots of different things.  Security work, ranching, guiding.  Management things, too.  We managed a saloon for a while.”

Cameron turned his attention back to Curry.  “I can’t think of anything offhand.  Ranching’s big around here, but nobody’s hiring in wintertime.  And like you saw at the saloon, most people stay around home when the weather’s like this, so the stores ain’t hiring either.”  As he talked, he saw both men’s shoulders start to droop, and he tried to reassure them.

“Don’t look like that, boys.  My lady friend always says I’m seeing the glass half-empty, instead of half-full.  Tomorrow I’m going out to the boss’s home.  He’s got a finger in every pie around here.  I can ask him if he knows about any jobs.  Would that help?”

“That’s generous of you, JJ.  We’d appreciate that.  Wouldn’t we, Thaddeus?”

“Sure would, JJ.”  A loud clap of thunder punctuated Curry’s words, and all three men looked around, as if expecting the walls to start shaking.

“You might want to make an early night of it, boys.  Nothing and nobody’s gonna be out and about tonight.”

“No, probably not.  Guess we’ll dry off and hit the hay.”  Heyes reached out to shake Cameron’s hand again.  “Real pleasure meeting with you, JJ.  We’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Yes, you will.  Can’t hardly avoid me, I’m here so much.  Good night.”  He watched the two men go upstairs, while thunder rolled outside steady and regular as the ocean’s waves.

When Heyes and Curry disappeared around the corner upstairs, heading towards their room, the genial smile fell from Cameron’s face.  “Yes, Joshua Smith,” he said to himself, “you’ll be seeing more of me for sure.  If I’m right about you, you are gonna make me a rich man.”


0000000000

“Well?”  Curry leaned against the exterior of the telegraph office, trying to avoid the constant drip of rainwater seeping through the overhang that protected the sidewalk.

Heyes stuffed several yellow pieces of paper in his vest pocket.  “Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  They haven’t all answered yet, but none of these are hiring.”

“Not even Big Mac?  He’s always got some scam goin’.”

“Not even him.  The longer he’s been married, the more honest he’s become.”

“Sheesh,” Curry said, blowing his nose into a handkerchief.  “Somethin’s wrong with the world when even Big Mac goes straight.”

“You got that right, Kid,” Heyes said, putting both hands on his hips and squinting at the dark clouds gathered over the wooden buildings.  “You can’t depend on anything to stay the same anymore.”

“One thing we can always depend on is beer.  How about we go get some while the carpenters are poundin’ at the hotel?”

Heyes put a friendly hand on Curry’s shoulder.  “And people say I’m the one with good ideas. Lead on.”

They walked the half-block to the small saloon opposite from the hotel.  Passing through the batwing doors, they saw two men sitting at a small table near the bar.  One appeared to be sleeping, his head resting on his arms.  The other wore an apron and was clearly the bartender.  He jumped to his feet and went behind the bar as Heyes and Curry came up and leaned forward, resting their forearms on the bar.  Water dripped from their hats.  The bartender grabbed a dirty rag and wiped up the puddles forming on the bar.

“What can I get for you gents today?”

“Two beers, please,” Curry said.  “Sorry about makin’ a mess for you.”

“No problem, gents,” the bartender spoke as he drew the beers.  “Gives me somethin’ to do.  Gets pretty dull here on these winter days.  That’ll be ten cents.”

Heyes put a coin on the counter.  “No poker?”

“No sir.  Not till Saturday night, most like.  Today’s Wednesday.”



“Yeah, I guess it is.”  He raised his glass to Curry’s.  “Here’s to Saturday.”  They touched glasses and took long drinks.  Curry put the glass down on the bar and sneezed.  He took out his handkerchief and blew his nose.

“Could you do that a little louder?  Some of the folks out in the cemetery are still in their graves.”

Curry stuffed the handkerchief into his vest pocket.  “Can’t help it.  This kind of weather always makes my nose run.”

The batwing doors flew open, crashing hard against the walls, and both men startled, tensing up until they saw who it was.

“Mr. Smith!  Mr. Jones!  I been lookin’ all over for you!”

“Slow down, son!” Heyes said.  “Where’s the fire?”

Tommy came to a dead halt, blinking rapidly.  “Fire?  There ain’t no fire.  Not in all the rain we been havin’.”

“Never mind.  That’s another one of Mr. Smith’s jokes.  Why are you lookin’ for us?”

“Mr. Cameron, he’s out at Mr. Pemberton’s place.  That’s who owns the hotel, you know, right?  Anyway, he says Mr. Pemberton’s lookin’ to play some poker, only he ain’t got enough players, and maybe you want to come have dinner and play some cards and stay over the night and maybe see if Mr. Pemberton’s hirin’, and if’n you want to go, you can take the carriage he sent to town since he needed somethin’ from the druggist anyhow, and he won’t charge you for the hotel tonight ‘cause then he can keep the carpenters workin’ longer and then he’ll get the job done faster ‘cause –“

“Whoa!”  Curry held up his hands.  “Take a breath!  We got it!  What do you think, Joshua?  You feel like you could play some poker tonight?”

“That’s a mighty generous offer, Tommy.  We accept.”

“Carriage is at the hotel now, Mr. Smith.  I already got the box from the druggist loaded.  If’n you’re ready, you can go right away.”

“How about that, Thaddeus!  Looks like we found us some poker after all.  What do you think of that?”  He slapped Curry on the back, who then sneezed and fumbled for his handkerchief to blow his nose, hard.


0000000000

Heyes pulled back the leather window of the coach, squinting his eyes.

“See anything yet?”

“Nope,” Heyes said, leaning back onto his seat.  “Fog’s too thick.  Don’t matter none.  We should be there any minute.”  He stared at Curry, who was leaning his head back and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Still stuffed up, Kid?”

“I hope I’m not gettin’ a cold.”

“You’ll feel better after you get some dinner.”

“I’m not that hungry.”

“Maybe you really are getting sick.”

“Funny.”



Both men were abruptly jolted out of their seats when the carriage rocked back and forth and came to a sudden stop.

“I sure hope this means we’ve arrived instead of gettin’ robbed,” Curry said.

Heyes cautiously opened the carriage door.  They were stopped in front of a broad porch.

“We’ve arrived somewhere.”

“Joshua!  Thaddeus!  Glad you made it!  Come on inside!”  JJ was standing on the porch, leaning on a cane.

Heyes and Curry jumped down, trying to avoid the deepest mud and failing.  Both men had to pull hard to get their boots out of the muck and make their way up the porch steps.

“Just kick ‘em off,” Cameron advised.  “We got some house slippers for you.  Miss Pemberton don’t like mud being tramped through the house.”

“Sure thing, JJ.”

“Miguel will take your coats and hats, boys.  And you’ve got that druggist box, too?”

“Sure do.  It’s in the coach.”

They took off their wet coats and hats and handed them to the Mexican man.

“Thanks for comin’ out here tonight, boys.  I told Mr. Pemberton all about you.  He’s lookin’ forward to meetin’ you.”

“That’s mighty nice of you, JJ.  But ah…what exactly did you tell him?” Heyes asked.  At JJ’s expression, Heyes hurried to explain.  “I mean, I hope we don’t disappoint him.  After all, we’re just a couple of ordinary fellas.  We aren’t card sharks.”

“VERY ordinary,” Curry added.  “Nothin’ special at all.”  Heyes rolled his eyes.  “What?  It’s the truth, Joshua.”

“I’m sure you boys are underestimating yourselves.  Besides, Mr. Pemberton likes inviting new people to the house since he don’t get out much anymore.  If you’ll come with me, we’ll get the introductions done.”

They followed Cameron down a long hall to a wood-paneled room with a game table set with six chairs.  A thin older man with luxuriant gray mutton chops sat in a wheelchair.  Next to him stood a slender middle-aged woman with wavy chestnut hair piled on top of her head, pouring whiskey from a crystal decanter into glasses.

“Joshua Smith, Thaddeus Jones, meet your hosts.  This is Mr. Harley Pemberton and his daughter, Miss Ada Pemberton.”

Harley Pemberton reached out to shake hands with his visitors.  “You’ll pardon me if I don’t get up, gentlemen.  I’m not as mobile as I once was.”

“Very generous of you to invite us out here, not knowing us at all,” Heyes said, sitting down and accepting a glass from the woman.

“It’s my pleasure.  JJ said you seemed to be a couple fine young men.  Besides, it works out for me.  I get stimulating company, and I can keep the carpenters working longer, maybe finish that job a little sooner.  And I understand you’re from Kansas, which holds a special interest for me.”

Heyes and Curry exchanged a quick, concerned glance.  “May I ask why that is?” Heyes said, trying to maintain a light, uninterested tone.  Next to him, Curry’s face had gone still and wary.

Pemberton sipped his whiskey deliberately.  His daughter and JJ watched him closely.  Pemberton put his glass down on the table and wiped his mouth with one hand before answering Heyes’ question.

“Well, I might as well tell you the story straight out now, instead of beating around the bush for a while.  I had a son, from my second marriage.  Ada, she’s from my first marriage.”  His eyes flicked to Ada, and she rested one hand on his shoulder, squeezing it gently.  “My second wife left me.  Took off with my little boy to Kansas couple years before the war started.  I tried to find them, but no luck.”

“That’s hard, Mr. Pemberton.  Real hard.  But I don’t see where me and Joshua come into this.”

Ada sat down in a chair behind her father and folded her hands in her lap.  Cameron almost collapsed into a chair next to Heyes.

Harley Pemberton twirled his empty glass between his hands.  Standing up suddenly as if she’d just awakened, Ada picked up the decanter and refilled her father’s glass.  He didn’t acknowledge her as she sat down again.

“When JJ told me about you, we both realized you’re about the same age as my son would be.  I know it’s unlikely, but I thought, maybe you might have run into my Joshua somewhere along the way.  I have some questions.”

Heyes and Curry sat up straighter.

“Yeah,” JJ said.  “Same Christian name as yours.  Seemed like a funny coincidence at first, then I remembered somethin’ Miss Ada says.  She says ‘Coincidence is God’s way of remainin’ anonymous.”

“Depends on what the questions are.”  Curry’s right hand slipped under the table to rest on his gun.  A quick flick of Heyes’ eyes showed that he noticed.

“No such thing as a free lunch, as another saying goes,” Heyes remarked.

“JJ tells me you lost your families in the border wars.”

Heyes shifted in his chair uncomfortably.

“That’s true.  We both ended up in orphanages.  Didn’t like it there, so we both ran away when we were fifteen.”

JJ’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.  “You told me you two met at a job.”

“We did, JJ,” Heyes explained.  “We’re two years apart in age.  We had similar circumstances growing up, that’s all.  Guess that’s one reason we get along as well as we do.  We came up the same way.”

“Have you ever heard of the Valparaiso Home for Waywards?” Ada asked.  Heyes’ and Curry’s bodies tensed up, clearly visible to the others.

“I see that you have,” she said drily.

“Mr. Pemberton hired some Pinkertons to find his Joshua,” JJ explained.  “They found out that his wife and the man she run off with got killed in the border wars, and the boy got sent to Valparaiso.”

Curry sneezed, and everyone looked at him while he wiped his nose.

“Excuse me.”  He looked at his host.  “I was there, and so was Joshua at another time.  It was a mighty big place, ‘cause of the war and all.  Lots of boys lost their folks.  But I never knew any boy named Pemberton.  Do you recall anyone by that name, Joshua, durin’ your time there?”

Heyes was shaking his head.  “No, sure don’t.  Sorry, Mr. Pemberton, Miss Pemberton.  I got a pretty good memory.  I’m certain I never knew a Pemberton there.”

“What about afterwards?” Miss Ada put in.  “You might’ve run into him later, after the war.”

“I don’t think so, ma’am.”

“Well.” Mr. Pemberton steepled his fingers and leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling.  After a moment, he looked back at his guests.  “Well.  It was a long shot at best.  Keep thinking on it, will you?  Some memory might come to you.  You might’ve run into my boy later on, as Ada says.  He had dark hair and eyes like you, Joshua.”

“Sure thing,” Curry assured him.  “We’d be happy to help any way we could.”

“There’s a reward, too,” JJ added.  “Big one.  Mr. Pemberton here, he’s mighty well-off.  He wants his son to take over his businesses.”

“There is that,” Pemberton added.  “Ada, my dear, would you mind rolling me into the kitchen?  I want to check on dinner preparations for our guests.”  He turned to smile reassuringly at Heyes and Curry.  “No, I didn’t forget I promised dinner.  While I make sure everything’s organized in a satisfactory way, enjoy more of this fine whiskey.”  Ada rose from her seat and took the handles of the wheelchair, pulling her father away from the table and pushing him into the hallway.  The three men watched her go.  When she was out of sight, they looked at each other, and all three sighed simultaneously.

“I hope you boys don’t feel ambushed,” JJ told them.

“Only a little,” Heyes admitted.  “I sure wasn’t expecting to get into life stories.”

“I heard you two talking about needing to make money when you came in to the hotel last night.  It’d be worth your while to help him find his boy.  He’s offering a $5,000 finder’s fee.”

Curry’s eyes got big.  “He’s offerin’ a bounty?”

“You could call it a bounty, but I think it’s more of a reward.  He’s not planning to send his son to jail.  Mr. Pemberton, he ain’t in good health.  You might’ve noticed.”

“I did wonder,” Heyes said.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Cancer.  It’s pretty bad.  The doctor thinks he don’t have much time left.  He wants to find his boy real bad, so he can inherit.”

“You mean he’d cut his daughter out of his will?”

“Oh, no, Thaddeus, she’d be taken care of, no matter what happens.  But if the son don’t show up before her father passes away, she gets everything.  Harley, he’s an old-fashioned type.  He thinks a lady’s place is in the home, and not in business, so he’s plannin’ for his son to take over.”

“Even a son he don’t know?”  Curry was incredulous.  “He could be a bank robber.  Or worse.”

“Hard to imagine what’s worse than a bank robber,” Cameron mused, staring at the doorway, “stealing money from hard-working people.”

Behind Cameron’s back, Heyes mouthed, “Will you shut up” across the table to Curry, who only scowled back at him.

“So, JJ,” Heyes said, “How about more of that whiskey?  All this talking is giving me a powerful thirst.”


0000000000

Heyes rolled over on his side restlessly, pulling the blanket up to his chin and scrunching the pillow under his head.  He shut his eyes tight in the darkened room, but could only lay still for a moment.  The sound of snoring penetrated the bedroom wall. He tried putting the pillow on top of his head.  That position lasted no more than a minute.  Finally, he threw the pillow to the floor and the covers back.  He sat up and reached for his pants, pulling them on quickly.  He padded to the door on bare feet and went out in the hall.  Only a few wall sconces were lit in the hallway, casting a dim glow.  He walked to the door next to his and knocked gently.  When there was no answer, he opened the door and slipped inside.

Loud snores were coming from a shape buried under a pile of quilts on the bed.  Crossing over, he glanced at the gun belt hanging from the headboard before bending down to speak in a stage whisper.

“Kid!  Wake up!”  There was no response, except maybe an intensification of the snores.  He tried again, bending lower and whispering a little louder.

“Come on!  You gotta wake up!”

Curry sat up so quickly that his head collided with Heyes’.  Both recoiled, putting a hand to their bruised heads.

“Why’d you have to do that?”

“Why’d I do that?” Curry echoed, in the same loud whisper.  “Why’d you do that!  What’re you wakin’ me up for?”

“You were snoring.”

“So what?  You’re not even sleepin’ in the same room.”

“I could hear you through the wall.  I couldn’t sleep.”

“I can’t help that!  My head’s so stuffed up, I can hardly breathe.”  Curry lay back down on his side and pulled the quilts up around him tightly.  “Go away, will ya?  Go downstairs and pace for an hour or two.  Just let me sleep.”

Heyes straightened up, hands on his hips.  “Some partner you are.”  Curry pulled the covers up over his head.  “Fine.  That’s just fine.  Go to sleep.  See if I care.”  Heyes spun around and left the room, remembering just in time to close the door gently instead of slamming it.  As he left, Curry punched his pillow a few times, and settled down again.

In the hall, Heyes turned rapidly to go downstairs but stopped after only a few steps.  He flattened himself against the wall at a corner, listening intently.  The sounds of a subdued conversation echoed.  Slowly, carefully, he twisted to peek around the corner.

About ten feet away, he saw JJ and Ada Pemberton standing outside an opened door.  Each wore a long robe and, apparently, nothing else.  They stood close together, his hands on her waist and her hands around his neck.  Their foreheads almost touched as they spoke to each other.  The words weren’t distinct, but their actions were clear.  As they separated, Heyes shrank against the wall again, waiting in the darkness until he heard the door click shut and JJ’s peg leg clicking on the floor, diminishing as he moved away.  He waited a moment longer before he retreated to Curry’s room, entering as quietly as he’d done a few minutes before.

The mound of blankets that was Kid Curry shook with each snore.  Heyes crossed to the bed and, this time, stood farther away from his sleeping partner.

“Kid!  Wake up!”  The snoring continued.  Heyes fumbled on the bedside table for matches.  He struck a light to the oil lamp, brightening the room.  The snoring ceased.  A hand reached out from under the covers and pulled them down to reveal Curry’s exasperated face.

“What is it now?”

Heyes sat down on the foot of the bed.  Curry scooted his legs over to the other side, giving Heyes more room to sit.

“Want to know what I just saw?”

“No, but I bet you’re gonna tell me anyway.”

“I just saw Ada and JJ kissing in the hall.  What do you think of that?”

“I think that news could’ve waited till morning.”

“Kid, you’re not thinking.”

“What’s to think?  She’s still a fine-lookin’ woman for her age.  And JJ said he had a lady friend.”

Heyes leaned against the brass fittings of the footboard.  “I’m thinking about this lost Pemberton son.  If he don’t turn up, she inherits everything.  And judging by what we’ve seen of this house, there’s a lot to inherit.”

“The odds of Joshua Pemberton turnin’ up after all this time are pretty low.  Unless he’s really you, and you been holdin’ out on me all these years.  Maybe I should turn you in for the $5,000 reward.”

“That’s real funny.  I just can’t figure JJ out.  If he finds the son, he gets the reward, but his lady friend don’t inherit the big money.  What kind of angle is he working?”

Curry yawned.  “He’s thinkin’ of himself, just like every other bounty hunter out there.  What kind of angle does he need, besides earnin’ a $5,000 reward?”

“I don’t think so.  There’s something I’m missing here.”

“I know what’s missin’ here.”  Heyes looked at him expectantly.  “I’m missin’ sleep.  Go to bed, Heyes.  Go for a walk.  Get a drink.  Whatever you do, just do it someplace else.  Please.”

“Alright, alright.” Heyes got up and walked over to the door.  “I’m gonna think on it.  Maybe I’ll go downstairs and get some more of that whiskey.”

“Good for you,” Curry muttered, laying down again.  “Just so long as you do your thinkin’ away from here.”

Heyes was barely outside in the hall again when he heard the first snores coming from the bedroom.  He went back to his bedroom and put on a shirt and socks.  He looked briefly at his bed, considering, when the full volume of snoring resumed from the next room.  He sat down on the bed, put on the borrowed house slippers, and went out in the hallway again.

Coming down the broad staircase to the first floor, he paused for a moment, running both hands through his unkempt hair, trying to find his bearings in the dark.

“Are you lost, Mr. Smith?”

Startled, Heyes jumped back a couple steps, reaching for the gun that normally hung low at his hip.

“Miss Pemberton!  What’re you doing up this time of night?”

“I might ask you the same question.”  She was still in her robe, with her long hair in a thick braid hanging over her shoulder.

“Couldn’t sleep with Thaddeus snoring like a freight train.  He’s got a cold.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  That he has a cold, I mean, not that he’s snoring.”

“His snoring is pretty sorry, if you ask me.”

She ignored the feeble joke.  “I can see he gets some hot tea with honey, brandy and lemon.  He should spend tomorrow resting and keeping warm.  That’s the only way to make sure a cold doesn’t turn into pneumonia.”

“That’s kind of you, Miss Pemberton.  I’m sure he’d appreciate it, but we’re heading back to town in the morning.”

She tilted her head to one side.  “In all your nighttime ramblings, Mr. Smith, haven’t you bothered to look out a window?”

“A window?”  She nodded.  “No, ma’am, why?”

“Follow me.”  She turned and walked towards the parlor, and he followed.  She pulled asked the heavy curtains at the first window and waited for him.  He stood next to her and looked outside, and his jaw dropped.  The wet hillsides that he’d passed through that afternoon were transformed into a winter scene straight out of a children’s story.  Ice coated everything – the trees, the porch, the fence.  Icicles hung from the gutters.  He could hear the sleet striking against the windowpane.

“It started about the time I went to bed,” she said.  “And it doesn’t show any signs of stopping.  Mr. Smith – Joshua, if I may –- you and your friend are going to be our guests for another couple of days, I believe.  It’s not safe to travel in these conditions.”

“No ma’am,” he breathed.  “I guess not.  We’re grateful to you and your father for your hospitality.  I don’t know how I can repay it.”

“Oh, I’ll think of something.  I’m sure I can think of something.”


0000000000

_________________
Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, the two most successful outlaws in the history of the west. And in all the trains and banks they robbed, they never shot anyone.


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Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Sun 11 Sep 2016, 2:03 am by royannahuggins
When Heyes woke up, only a feeble daylight shone through his bedroom window. He pushed himself up onto his elbows, squinting and yawning. He heard a timid knock on the bedroom door. He sat up straight and reached for his pocket watch that sat on the bedside table. He flipped it open and blinked at what he saw. The knock came again, louder. He had to clear his dry throat before he could respond.

“What is it?”

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. It is Miguel. I bring coffee for you.”

Rubbing his scratchy chin, he pushed off the quilt and swung his legs over the side of the bed, slipping his feet into the borrowed slippers.

“Bless you. Come in.”

Miguel put a small enamel pot and a mug on the bureau.

“We make coffee strong. I hope you like it. You come down for breakfast soon?”

“Yeah, sure.” Miguel was already halfway outside the room when Heyes spoke up again.

“What time is it anyway?”

“Almost 10:30. Miss Ada and Mr. JJ, they already ate. You like grits?”

“Anything.”

“Yes sir. Come down when you get dressed. And maybe you see if Mr. Jones come down, too? He is still in his bed.”


0000000000

Shaved and dressed, Heyes went over to Curry’s room and rapped on the door with his knuckles.

“Thaddeus? You alive?”

“No.”

Heyes opened the door and peered around it, not stepping into the room. Curry was sitting up, head tilted back on piles of pillows, and staring at the ceiling.

“Is it safe for me to come in?”

“No.”

“Good.” Heyes went in and pushed the door shut behind him. He pulled a chair up next to the bed and sat down, looking at Curry critically.

“You don’t look so good.”

“I feel worse. My head’s killin’ me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. You’ll feel better if you come downstairs with me and have some breakfast. They’re making grits.”

“No. I don’t feel like eatin’.”

“Now I believe you’re sick.”

Curry lifted his head off the pillow and looked at Heyes with bleary eyes.

“I hope you didn’t come to tell me it’s time to leave, because all I want to do is sleep.”

Heyes got up and went to look out the window. “Lucky for you, there was a big ice storm overnight. Miss Ada’s already invited us to stay over a day or two, no charge, so you’ll have plenty of time to recover.”

Curry turned his head to look at Heyes, who was looking out the window with an odd expression on his face.

“Sounds like a good deal to me.” Heyes stood motionless.

Concerned now, Curry tried again. “I thought it was a good deal, but maybe you don’t. What’s the matter?”

“Probably nothing.” He turned back to his partner and gave him a reassuring smile. “Nothing. I’m just imagining things.”

“Oh, great. When you tell me there’s nothin’ to worry about, I really get worried. What aren’t you tellin’ me?”

“Nothing, Kid, nothing.”

“Heyes, worryin’ is part of my job. We’ve travelled in worse weather than this. I’m ready to go anytime. Just say the word.”

“There you go, worrying about the wrong things again. Just relax and get well. It’s okay. Really.”

Mollified, Curry scooted under the covers again.

“You don’t have to tell me twice.”

“No, I never do. I’ll check in on you later.”

“Fine,” Curry mumbled, from under the quilt. “Just don’t wake me up.”

Downstairs, Heyes followed the aroma of bacon and coffee to the dining room. Seated at the head of the table was Harley Pemberton.

“Mr. Pemberton, sir! I didn’t expect to see you having breakfast this late.”

Pemberton waved a hand at Heyes, indicating he should sit down.

“I’m not much of a morning person, Joshua. I always do my best thinking at night.”

“Then we’re kindred spirits, sir. I’ve always said the same thing. Not too many distractions at that time.”

Pemberton’s gaze seemed to narrow on Heyes.

“What kind of things do you think about?”

“Oh, different things,” Heyes said, trying to keep his tone light. Miguel appeared with a silver pot of coffee and poured for both men.

“Are you ready for breakfast?” Heyes nodded, but Pemberton shook his head.

“Just bring my bottle. I don’t have much appetite.”

“Yes, sir.” Miguel disappeared again into the kitchen.

“What kind of things keep you awake, Joshua?” Heyes stifled a sigh.

“Oh, I guess I’m a bit of a worrier. At least, that’s what Thaddeus tells me. I tend to get up and pace when my thoughts don’t let me sleep.”

“Ah. That was you I heard last night.”

“I’m sorry if I kept you awake, sir.”

Pemberton waved off the comment. “Like I said, I don’t sleep much. Especially these days. Ah, Miguel, thank you.” Miguel handed a brown bottle and spoon to Pemberton, who nodded his thanks and opened the bottle. Ignoring the spoon, he took a swallow from the bottle before putting it back down on the table with a thump. Heyes watched in silence.

“No judgment, young man. I only take what I need.”

“That is laudanum, isn’t it?”

“It is. You don’t approve, do you?”

“I’m not one to judge, sir. But that’s dangerous stuff. You get used to it, and you can’t ever get enough. I’ve seen it happen.”

Pemberton shrugged his shoulders. “It doesn’t matter if I’m hooked or not. I’m dying.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, sir. I hope it’s not true.”

“It’s true. I have cancer of the pancreas.” He laughed without humor. “I never even knew I had a pancreas, until I found out it was killing me. The good thing about a death sentence is, it’s a powerful motivator. When you find out you don’t have much time left, you do the things you always meant to do.”

“What things are those, sir?” Pemberton drummed his fingers on the tabletop and looked at Heyes appraisingly for a long moment. Then he slammed a fist on the table so hard, the water glasses shook and spilled a little. Heyes reached for a napkin to mop up the water.

“Miguel! Get in here!”

The Mexican man appeared almost as if by magic. “Yes sir?”

“Get the daguerreotype for me. The one on my desk.” Miguel was already a few steps away when Pemberton spoke up again. “And bring the bottle of Bushmills. We’re going to have our coffees Irish.”

“Isn’t it a little dangerous to mix laudanum and whiskey?” Heyes asked.

“A little hair of the dog never hurt anyone. And besides, what’s the worst it could do? Kill me?”

“What about Miss Ada?”

Pemberton’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “What about her?”

“You’re her father.”

“She’s got JJ.” Heyes’ eyebrows rose. “Yes, I know about them. When people are having an affair, they think no one notices. They’re wrong. Keep that in mind, Joshua, should you ever be tempted by a married woman. Ah, there they are. Put those down by me, Miguel.”

“Did you notice that your wife was having an affair?” Pemberton flashed a hostile look at Heyes, and Miguel nearly dropped the bottle he was holding.

“Thank you, Miguel. You can go now.” Miguel silently put the bottle down between Pemberton and Heyes and swiftly left the room.

Heyes did not avert his eyes from Pemberton. Finally, the elderly man grunted and relaxed a little in his wheelchair.

“I’ll say this for you, Joshua. You’re not a coward. Stupid maybe, but not a coward.”

“Thaddeus might have something to say about that. I say, if you want to ask personal questions, you should be ready to answer some.”

“Fair enough, I suppose. No, I didn’t. I was away on business for a couple days and came home to find my wife had run off with her lover, and she’d taken my boy with her. I went after them, looking, but no luck. There weren’t any detective agencies in the 50’s, so I was on my own.”

“JJ said you hired Pinkertons.”

“Later. After the war. I found out that she and her lover were killed in Kansas, and my boy was sent to an orphanage. Nobody kept good records back then. I ran into a dead end.”

Heyes poured whiskey into his coffee cup. He took a long drink as Pemberton watched him.

“I want to show you something. Take a look at this picture. Be careful with it; it’s a daguerreotype.”

Silently, Heyes took the heavy but fragile image from Pemberton. Holding it in both hands, he studied the family photo of a younger Pemberton, a slender woman, and a dark-haired boy, aged about four or five.

“When was this taken?”

“1856.”

Heyes whistled. “Must have cost you a pretty penny back then.”

“It did.”

“You don’t expect me to recognize the man in this boy, do you? He’s a man by now.”

Pemberton burst out in unexpected laughter. Heyes glanced at the brown bottle and waited for him to calm down before commenting.

“Mind telling me what’s so funny?”

“You are, Joshua. You don’t understand any of this, do you?”

Heyes just looked at his host.

“I see I have to spell it out for you. Too bad. I’d hoped you’d be smarter.” A bitter smile crossed Pemberton’s sallow face. “My wife renamed my boy, trying to hide him from me, but I found out about it. She named him Joshua Smith.”

Heyes stared at his host in open-mouthed shock.

“Now you understand. You’re my boy, Joshua. You’re my son.”


0000000000

JJ found Heyes sitting by a window in the parlor. The gaming table next to him held a half-empty bottle of Irish whiskey and an overflowing ashtray. He cleared his throat loudly, but there was no response from Heyes. After a long moment, he tried again.

“If you want to say something, say it,” Heyes said, without turning to look at JJ. “If you’re just gonna cough up phlegm, do it somewhere else.”

“That’s a fine way to talk to someone who’s just made you a rich man.”

Heyes jumped out of his chair so suddenly that JJ took an alarmed step backwards.

“I knew it. I told Thaddeus you were playing some sort of angle, and I was right.”

“What do you care if I get some money out of this? You ought to be grateful. If it weren’t for me, you and your partner would still be trying to find a poker game to pay for your hotel room.”

Heyes’ face went still and hard. JJ stumbled backwards until his back was up against the wall.

“If it weren’t for you…” Heyes put his glass down on the table and advanced on JJ. “If it weren’t for you…” Heyes grabbed JJ’s arms and shook him. JJ raised a hand to defend himself, but Heyes twisted him around with his arm behind his back, and shoved him up against the wall.

“What is wrong with you?” JJ could hardly get the words out with Heyes restraining him.

“Gentlemen! That’s enough!” Heyes’ attention was drawn to Ada’s unexpected appearance, and he loosened his grasp on JJ.

“Stop this immediately, or I’ll call Miguel!”

Heyes released JJ, leaving him to sag limply against the wall.

“Go ahead. Call Miguel. See what happens when I tell him he’ll be reporting to me before long.”

“There’s something seriously wrong with you,” JJ said. He stumbled over to an upholstered chair and collapsed.

“Try to calm down, will you?” Ada asked. “At least pretend that you’re a reasonable human being.”

“Pretend!” Heyes was exasperated. “I’m the only person here making any sense!”

“I know that all this is a shock to you, Joshua,” Ada soothed. “Sit down. Please.”

Heyes was looking around the room wildly, breathing hard, blinking rapidly. Ada walked up to him and put her hands on his shoulders.

“Just sit down. Please.” He calmed under her soft hands and allowed her to guide him to a sofa. She sat down next to him.

“I know this must all be a terrible shock for you,” she said quietly, trying to soothe him. “I can’t imagine how hard it must be to learn that the person you thought was your father wasn’t, and that you’ve been lied to by people you thought you could trust.”

Heyes jumped up away from her and started pacing back and forth, talking fast.

“Miss Ada, this is all a big misunderstanding. I’m not who you think I am. I’m not your brother. I’m just a common fella from Kansas with a common name. There’s all sorts of Smiths out there, hundreds and thousands of them.”

“Joshua, will you please sit down!”

Heyes kept pacing, wringing his hands.

“As I said before –“ Heyes opened his mouth as to speak, but quieted when Ada held one hand up.

“As I said before, I know this is a shock. You weren’t expecting any of this. I wasn’t expecting this.” She looked over to JJ, whose expression was serious. “None of us expected to find you again, even though we never gave up hope. Everything fits. Your age. Your coloring. Even the more unusual physical characteristics, like the dimples and the mark on your neck.” Heyes’ head snapped up suddenly, and she smiled gently at him.

“Do you remember how you got that little scar?” He looked at the floor, avoiding her eyes. “You were only three. You tried to shave your face, the way Papa did. Only you couldn’t handle that razor, and you cut yourself a little.” She smiled at the memory. “Papa was so scared you’d really hurt yourself! And it left a scar. You carry that scar to this day.”

“I got the scar in a fight. Man I was playing poker with didn’t like me winning so much. Said I had to be cheating.” Heyes raised his head. “I wasn’t, by the way. Cheating, I mean.”

“That’s a good story,” JJ commented. “I might almost believe it, if I hadn’t seen that daguerreotype of you at age four with the scar on your neck.”

“It’s not me! All this stuff, it’s all coincidence. Nothing but coincidence.”

“Maybe so. I always say, ‘Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous’.”

Heyes was almost pleading. “You’ve got to believe me. Miss Ada, I know your father wants to believe this, but it just isn’t true. I’m not who you think I am.”

“You were only a little boy, and children can forget frightening experiences. Even adults can forget traumatic events. JJ can tell you that.”

“It’s true, Joshua. Really. I know I lost my leg at Cold Harbor, but I don’t remember any of it. Everything’s a blank from seeing that minie ball flying at me to being in the federal district hospital a couple weeks later. If that can happen to a grown man, think what a scary thing can do a little child who’s taken away from his home and pa and then goes through what you did during the Border Wars. It’s no surprise your memory’s all mixed up.”

Heyes rubbed his neck with one hand restlessly.

“I don’t see why you two are pushing this whole thing. Ada, you’re coming in a poor second if I’m who you think I am. You stand to lose a lot of money. And JJ, you’re selling your lady friend out for $5,000. What’s your angle?”

“Suspicious sort, aren’t you? Maybe we just want Harley to be happy in his last days.”

“What do you get out of this?” Heyes looked appraisingly at the others. “In my experience, nobody does anything unless they have something to gain.”

“You’ve had some bitter experience then,” Ada said quietly. “It’s made you an angry young man.”

“Only time I get angry is when people try to play with me, and that’s what you two are doing. So tell me the truth now, or I’ll get Thaddeus and we’ll leave here right now, and you can tell Mr. Pemberton how you drove me away.”

“Alright, Joshua. Truce. The truth is, with $5,000, I can propose marriage to Ada.”

“Why do you need so much money? A justice of the peace won’t cost more than a few dollars.”

“Because I asked Harley for Ada’s hand, and he refused. Not just because he calls me a blue belly because I fought for the Union, but because I don’t have two cents to my name. When I told him Ada was old enough to decide for herself who to marry, he said he’d cut her off without a dime if she did.”

“I don’t mind the thought of being poor, but John is old-fashioned. He won’t marry me unless he can support me. Anyway, the way things stand with Papa’s business, I don’t stand to inherit as much as you think. The emperor has no clothes.” At Heyes’ shocked look, Ada corrected herself. “Well, the emperor has a scant wardrobe, let’s put it that way. Papa has neglected his business since he got sick. I’ve tried to step in and help, but Papa won’t let me. He says a woman’s place is in the home.”

“Hasn’t he tried hiring any good men to run things for him?” Heyes asked.

“Oh, he’s tried, but it never works out. JJ’s been trying, too, but sick as he is, Papa won’t let go. He second-guesses everyone and undercuts them. Things aren’t going well.”

“So if I play along, act like I accept all this, then you two get everything you want. What if I don’t play along?”

Ada and JJ exchanged concerned looks.

“Putting aside everything we’ve said already -- why don’t you want what you’re being offered here?” Ada asked.

“Because I made a solemn promise that I would never take anything that isn’t rightfully mine. Ever. If I accepted this, I’d be lying about who I am, not just to people I care about, but to some poor old man on his deathbed.”

“I told you he was a good one, didn’t I, Ada?”

“I can’t do this. I just can’t. Don’t you see?” Heyes was almost pleading. “I’m not who you think I am.”

“You’re Joshua Smith, aren’t you?” Heyes didn’t answer JJ. “You know, after you checked in to the hotel, I wondered about your names. Smith and Jones. Tommy thought you might be famous outlaws, living under aliases.” Ada smiled at the joke, but Heyes didn’t. “Well, I figured right away that real outlaws would come up with better aliases than Smith and Jones. I mean, how suspicious is that? So the names had to be real.”

“Of course they were real names, John. And the more you talk, Joshua, the more I see that you are an honest man, through and through, and that you care about doing the right thing.” Ada stood up, smoothing her skirt. “I believe you are my brother. Truly, I do. And if I doubted it, I might still want you to inherit. You’re a good man.”

“JJ, if you’ll accompany me, I need to check in on Papa. He might need some more medicine by now.” JJ stepped over to her slowly and took her arm in his.

“With pleasure.” They left Heyes standing alone, in the middle of the room.


0000000000

Heyes lay on his bed with one arm draped over his eyes. Even though the sun had gone down early, the glow of moonlight and millions of stars illuminated the ice-covered ground, sending shafts of light through his bedroom window.

There was a gentle knock at the door.

“Joshua. Are you alright?”

“Yes. Leave me alone.” A moment later, the door clicked open and Curry came in. He stood beside the brass bed.

“Are you alright?”

“I said yes already.”

“I heard you.”

Heyes rolled onto his side to look directly at Curry.

“Did you hear the part where I said, leave me alone?”

“I heard that, too.”

“Then why are you here?”

Curry picked up a chair and moved it to the side of the bed. He sat down, clasping his hands, and looked at his partner.

“You know what time it is?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care.”

“It’s way past midnight.”

Heyes pushed himself up on one elbow. “What are you, Big Ben? I said I don’t care.”

“Who’s Big Ben?”

Sighing, Heyes lay down on his back. “It don’t matter.”

Curry turned to the bedside table and picked up the whiskey bottle. It was empty.

“Got a headache?” Heyes only stared at the ceiling. Curry put the bottle down.

“So what’re you gonna do?”

“If you don’t leave me alone, I may shoot you.”

“I doubt it. Your gun’s on the bureau. You’d have to get past me.”

“Give me a good reason, and I’ll do it.”

“In the shape you’re in right now, you couldn’t get past Harry Briscoe.”

Heyes sighed and rolled on his side again.

“Why are you here?”

“I felt better, so I went downstairs to get some food. Got to talkin’ with your Pa.” Heyes groaned and closed his eyes.

“Had a nice talk with him,” Curry continued. “He was feelin’ pretty good about everythin’. ‘Course, if I was drinkin’ whiskey and swallowin’ laudanum like it was soda pop, I’d be feelin’ pretty good, too. He’s worried about you. He thinks I might be encouragin’ you to walk away from your inheritance, so he offered me $1,000 to talk you into stayin’ here and takin’ over.”

Heyes groaned out loud. “Kid, how do I get into these messes?”

“I don’t know, Heyes. You got a gift, that’s for sure. But not to worry. I got him up to $3,000.”

“I don’t know what to do. They won’t believe me when I tell them I’m not the long-lost son. I could tell them I’m Hannibal Heyes, and they wouldn’t believe that either. And aside from the fact that Joshua Smith is just a stupid alias that causes nothing but trouble, there’s the amnesty. Can you imagine what Lom and the Governor of Wyoming would think, when they heard I was pretending to be Joshua Pemberton? They’d think I was running a con game, and maybe I even got rid of the real Joshua. Not only would we lose any chance of an amnesty, but they’d send every lawman from Mexico to Manitoba to find me and throw me in the Wyoming penitentiary for life.”

“Yeah,” mused Curry, “that thought came to my mind as well.”

“If I was still a crook, it’d be easy. Play the role they want, then take the money and run, just like we always did.”

Curry noticed the look that crossed Heyes’ face, even in the dark bedroom.

“Oh no you don’t. Don’t even think about findin’ some way to make that happen. You can’t lie about who you are.”

“Kid, I lie every day about who I am. What’s the difference?”

“Listen, Heyes, and listen good. No, don’t give me that look. You know who you are, and it don’t matter if you’re called Hannibal Heyes or Joshua Smith or Rembacker or any of those stupid names we’ve used over the years. Names don’t mean nothin’. It’s who you are in here,” he said, tapping Heyes’ chest with two fingers. “The person who lives there, that’s the one who’s turned into an honest man. That’s the person who don’t want to lie to a dyin’ man and a grievin’ daughter, so he can use them to get rich.”

Heyes sat up, rubbing his eyes with his fists like a child. Curry wordlessly handed him the blue bandanna sitting on the bedside table, and Heyes wiped his face.

“Guess you really are a philosopher, Kid. Never knew you had it in you.”

“I know you pretty well by now.”

“Yeah, I guess you do.” He took a deep breath. “But it still don’t tell me what to do next.”

“I can tell you that, at least. Just stay here and wait for your hangover to pass. JJ and Ada put Harley to bed. They can’t get the laudanum away from him, no matter what they say, so he’ll be sleepin’ for a good long while.”

“That’s crazy. Doesn’t anybody know how dangerous that stuff is?”

“JJ does. He saw what it did when he was in the war, and after. But Ada says, her Pa’s not in pain as long as he’s got it. And as for your problem,” Curry stood up, stretching his back, “it’s all gonna work out somehow.”

“Oh, yeah? Mind telling me how, exactly?”

“I don’t know, Heyes, but mornin’ has a way of changin’ things. Meantime, I’m goin’ to bed. Make sure you don’t wake me up if I start snorin’.”

“I’ll keep that warning in mind. Good night, Kid. And thanks for everything.”

Curry paused at the door. “It’s what I do. See you later.”

Heyes lay down again and pulled the quilt up to his chest. He was asleep within a minute.


0000000000

A gentle knocking roused Heyes from his deep sleep.

“Who is it?”

The door opened, and Curry came in.

“You plannin’ to sleep the day through?”

Heyes stretched, still under the covers. “Maybe. What time is it anyway?”

“Almost 2:00.”

“Alright. I’ll be down sooner or later.”

“Make it sooner.”

Heyes opened bleary eyes. “What’s the hurry?”

“You mean, aside from the fact it’s two in the afternoon, and you’re still in bed?”

Heyes sat up, and his voice was sharper.

“Why? Has something happened?”

“You might say that. Mr. Pemberton died overnight. Me and JJ are in the dinin’ room, waitin’ on you.” He walked over to the chair, picked up Heyes’ shirt and trousers, and threw them at Heyes, who fumbled trying to catch them.

“He died?” Heyes couldn’t keep the shock out of his voice.

Curry nodded. “We’re waitin’ on you. Come downstairs, Heyes. We got decisions to make.”

When Heyes got down to the dining room, he found JJ and Curry sitting on opposite sides of the table, clutching coffee mugs and chatting in low voices. Both men wore black armbands.

“Help yourself to some coffee, Joshua,” JJ told him. “We have to help ourselves for food. Miguel’s in his room. He’s the one who found Harley this morning. He’s takin’ it pretty hard.”

Heyes sat down and poured some coffee for himself.

“What happened, JJ?”

“The laudanum, I think. He kept usin’ more and more over the last few weeks. Said it took away all the pain, and believe you me, he’d been havin’ some awful pain. The thing is, the more you take of that stuff, the more you want and the more you need. I saw it happen before. After a while, you take so much that it stops the heart as well.”

“He didn’t have much time left anyway, did he?”

JJ sighed. “No, Thaddeus, he didn’t. At least he wasn’t in pain at the end.” His eyes widened suddenly, and he stood up.

“Ada!” Heyes and Curry stood, too, when Ada Pemberton appeared. She wore a black silk mourning dress, but was pale and composed. Curry pulled a chair out for her, and she sat down.

“We were very sorry to hear that your father passed, Miss Ada,” Curry said. “If there’s anything we can do, we’d be honored to help you.”

“I think that depends on your friend. What are your plans, Joshua?”

“Miss Pemberton, I am not your brother, no matter how much your father wanted to believe it. Which means, I won’t make any claim on your father’s estate.” Her tight expression seemed to relax a bit. “You don’t need to worry about me. I don’t want your money.”

“Thank you, Joshua.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “I admit I am relieved to hear that.” A small smile appeared on her face. “JJ told me you were an honorable man, and everything you’ve said and done leads me to believe that, too.”

“That being settled,” she went on, “JJ and I have been talking. We have a proposition for you and Thaddeus, and we hope you’ll accept it.”

“We?” Both Heyes and Curry were smiling at the couple.

“We,” affirmed JJ. “You two are the first to know, I’ve proposed marriage to Ada, and she has accepted. Soon as a proper mourning period’s over, we’ll be married and head out to San Francisco for a nice, long honeymoon.”

“And that’s where you two come in,” Ada said. “Joshua, Thaddeus, would you consider staying in town for a few months and helping us with Father’s business affairs? In particular, the hotel needs competent management. JJ says you ran a saloon before. You can stay at the hotel for free, and be paid $50.00 a month.”

“Each?”

Despite their somber mood, JJ and Ada laughed. “Yes, Thaddeus. Each. If you can drive that kind of a hard bargain with our suppliers, then we’ll turn these businesses around.”

“Free food at the café, too, boys,” JJ added. “We own that as well.”

“Thaddeus, you can take on the café, and I’ll take on the hotel. How’s that sound?”



“I like it, Joshua. Think I’ll start with trainin’ the staff to be more friendly.”

“Then it’s settled. Father would be so pleased.”

“First things first. Boys, I’ll need your help, starting today. I need to take Harley to the undertakers, and then make arrangements for the funeral. Will you help me do that?”

“Of course we will, JJ,” Curry assured him. “Like I said, we’ll help any way we can.”

“Ada. I’m real sorry I’m not your brother. Not because of the money. Because I think that might’ve made your Pa happy.”

Ada wiped tears from her eyes. “But it did make him happy. He believed it, even if you didn’t. I think it allowed him to let go, because he knew his boy was home.”

“Well.” Heyes cleared his throat a couple times. He looked at Curry, who gave him an encouraging smile.

“Just coincidences, Ada, that’s all. My being from Kansas and being at Valparaiso. Just a couple of weird coincidences.”

Ada smiled through her tears. “No such thing as coincidence, Joshua. After all, what if you had turned out to be dishonest, or a thief? You would have pretended to be my brother, taken the money, and run off, leaving me with nothing.”

“She’s right, Joshua. We’re both blessed that you’re not a thief.”

“Yeah. I’m glad to find out I’m not a thief, too.”





(Writers love feedback! You can comment on Rosie Annie’s story by clicking the "post reply" button, found at the bottom left side of your screen. You don't have to be a member of this site and you can be anonymous. You can type any name in the box.)
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Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Fri 16 Sep 2016, 3:27 pm by Penski
Our Hannibal Heyes is "growing up" and not thinking just about himself. Very insightful with a twist of awww.... Thank you for writing a VS story, Rosie Annie! clap
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Sun 18 Sep 2016, 12:43 am by aliasfluffyone
Enjoyed reading.
Loved it!
Post on Sun 18 Sep 2016, 10:23 am by LittleBluestem
I absolutely loved this episode through and through. I read it in pieces to make it last longer! Great job spooling the plot out -- for a while I thought that JJ had figured out the real identity of Smith and Jones. Your dialogue is so spot-on, so true to our boys. Every facial expression and gesture was just right. There was an ideal amount of humor throughout as well. I especially enjoyed the snoring scenes! And your descriptions were simple yet clear; I could totally picture that ice storm. (I have experienced several in my life.) Great casting, too. (Bea Arthur as the surly waitress! Ha! Kid will have to use lots of his blue-eyed charm to get her to be more friendly...!) Loved that Heyes really has transformed himself from a thief to an honest man. Loved Curry getting all philosophical. Loved the ending, too. Every now and then, our favorite reformed outlaws deserve to have something go their way! Pemberton died happy, believing he'd found his son. JJ & Ada can finally marry. HH and KC have a sweet and lucrative set-up. It's a real "happily ever after" ending -- well, at least until the next adventure.

Kudos to you, Rosie Annie! clap
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Mon 19 Sep 2016, 12:12 am by cac
Sigh of happiness-I am loving reading these episodes! What a fun twist on their identity crisis! And what a neat exploration of that theme. Great job!!!
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ALIAS JOSHUA SMITH BY ROSIEANNIE
Post on Mon 19 Sep 2016, 2:17 am by moonshadow
clap Being a beta reader has its privileges  biggrin  I've enjoyed watching your story come to life and to finally see it "air" gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. I won't be able to list all my favorite parts, but having Kid come down with a cold makes me want to give him some TLC since Heyes is too busy with all that's going on to pay him much attention wink

Your characters all had interesting personalities and they worked well in your storyline to keep my attention from the very beginning.

I'm glad Heyes had the chance to find out a bit more about himself. It's always a good thing to learn you have good qualities to help balance out the others.
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Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Tue 20 Sep 2016, 2:08 pm by Cal
Hi RosieAnnie - loved your episode...I will find time to read it again and post better critique...for now thought the picture choice and the casting were great...episode read really well...loved it. Calx
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Wed 21 Sep 2016, 5:54 pm by Maz McCoy
Loved the story Rosie. I was wondering how you would get Joshua Smith out of the mess without revealing he wasn't Joshua Smith! And poor Kid, suffering manfully all the way through. :)
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Fri 23 Sep 2016, 7:02 pm by MST3K
Good twist on Heyes' alias. I too like your writing about the boys' characteristics. You have their dialogue down too.
I can't wait for next week's episode. goodjob
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Sat 05 Nov 2016, 7:08 pm by Laura
I enjoyed this story very much. You have the characters down. First Heyes going to Kids room and talking to him and being told to leave several times, then Kid gong into Heyes room and being told the same thing, and did they listen to each other? not at first, knowing that they needed to be heard. I can see the facial expressions I can hear the voices, the tone, they way they speak, it all rings true to the show. Very well done.
Re: Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie
Post on Wed 04 Jan 2017, 12:47 pm by InsideOutlaw
Loved it, RA. As others said you had the bantering dead on and in character. Nice twist to have no villains in this episode simply a matter of misunderstanding. Very enjoyable read!
 

Alias Joshua Smith by Rosie Annie

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